Sometimes things happen that are so bizzare that you can't believe they are happening, even right when they are happening. Joe and I look at each other at such times to verify that 1) we are awake 2) we are not delusional 3) the cosmos is not playing a practical joke. For those fellow travelers who are about to enter the 'hub from hell' known as Chicago O'Hare ... be thee warned.
We arrive from San Francisco and have ordered a pusher to get us to the gate for the flight to Buffalo. We had flown in and out of Buffalo because it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than the direct flight from Toronto and we do what we can to keep costs down for organizers who bring me in to speak. I was very careful in ordering a 'pusher' not a 'wheelchair' because on our way through to San Francisco we got a pusher who was pissed off that I was in my own wheelchair because he had brought a wheelchair and 'people with their own wheelchairs shouldn't need help' he told me. He so didn't want to help us that his anger was almost fearsome. That we had to take help from him was diminishing. All the way he explained that I had to make sure that I got a 'pusher' not a 'wheelchair', I explained once that I make that clear when I make a reservation, when I check in and when I get on the plane, what happens with that information is out of my control. Then I just sat there and waited to arrive.
So when checking in we begged the woman at the gate in San Francisco to get the correct information into the system so that we didn't have to relive the ordeal at the airport. When we arrive in Chicago we have neither pusher or a twitching, angry staff with a wheelchair. We have no one. A customer service guy comes over and chats with us, says he will call. I tell him to ask for a PUSHER and explain why. He says he'll make it clear. He comes back to tell me that they had me scheduled for a cart but the cart was full so it didn't come. Um, OK, that makes no sense at all.
The pusher arrives with a wheelchair. Now the pusher is saying that he won't push me unless I get in his wheelchair. He keeps pointing to the weight capacity of the wheelchair which is boldly printed on the side showing me that it will carry me. I could see by the shape of the wheelchair that I would have difficulty getting in and it would be impossible for me to get out. I tell him that I am already in a chair and want to travel in my chair. He refuses. Disabled people have to go in approved chairs. I tell him my chair is approved and it's my chair. He refuses and says " let me explain the benefits of this chair" and then does. I say, "it's a chair that only able bodied people could easily get on and off of, I am not able bodied, and ..." I point out, "I am in a wheelchair already."
He looks at me with exasperation and says that he will not push me in my chair that if I want assistance I must get out of my chair and transer into his. At this point the customer service guy comes over and tries to intervene on my behalf. I suggest we put my luggage on that chair, pusher guy can push my luggage and Joe can push me. The only reason we need help is because we've got the carry on and Joe can't push me and take the luggage at the same time. The pusher guy doesn't want to put my luggage on his chair. Customer service intervenes and my luggage is loaded onto the chair.
At the elevator as we wait, he explains to me the benefits on his chair. Joe says, thankfully because I'm tired of the whole thing, 'Sir, I would have trouble getting in and out of that chair.' Then he explains how people get in the chair, now I know I simply couldn't do it, but say nothing because really, what is there to say?
We arrive at the gate and now how a couple of hours to wait and several other interactions of such common nastiness that it feels petty to even document.
Travel is for the hearty, I'll tell you, because without a sense of self and a sense of humour one's sense of outrage could cause calamity. And I'll say this for that guy and for 3 other people who I dealt with on the trip home. You should go home and thank God that I have a tremendous fear of jail time, or right now, you'd be dead and Bubba in the next cell would have claimed me as his bitch.